Could Nurses Face Liability for an Injury Caused by Medical Malpractice?

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Medical Malpractice Published on October 28, 2022 and updated on May 15, 2023.

nurse checking on IVWhen people hear about medical malpractice cases, they often think about doctors being careless or failing to provide appropriate treatment.

While doctors are involved in their fair share of medical malpractice cases, nurses can also commit malpractice and cause serious injuries.

Nurses handle so many things before patients see doctors and they keep an eye on vital signs and the overall condition of patients. Nurses are also relied on to inject IVs and help doctors during surgical procedures. If a patient begins to crash, nurses may be the first ones to notice and/or the first ones in the room.

Below, we discuss how nurses may commit medical malpractice and what goes into a medical malpractice case. The licensed Maryland medical malpractice attorneys at The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl are ready to discuss your injuries in a free consultation. We can determine if you may have a case and what it may be worth.

While your choice of legal representation is up to you, it is important to note our firm has obtained millions on behalf of medical malpractice victims. We understand you may have concerns about what it costs to hire a lawyer, but there are no upfront fees with our services.

Common Examples of Nursing Malpractice

Medical malpractice is a complex legal concept, but here is an easy way to think about it: medical malpractice is a failure to provide care that meets accepted medical standards for the given situation. Your lawyer would need to connect this failure to your injury or worsened medical condition.

There are a variety of actions that could be considered medical malpractice, although each situation needs to be analyzed on its own:

  • Medication errors – Nurses are often the ones who administer medications in a hospital or doctor’s office. Administering medication in the wrong way could result in serious or even life-threatening injury. Examples of medication errors include administering the wrong dose or giving the patient the wrong medication. Sometimes nurses may fail to even give the medication to the patient or give him or her the medication at the appropriate time. Nurses may fail to inject a medication into a vein, where it is supposed to go.
  • Failure to act – Nurses have an obligation to notify the doctor when they discover something is wrong with the patient. For example, nurses may need to call for a crash cart. Nurses also have an obligation to be aware when something is wrong with a patient, assuming the thing that is wrong is obvious. Nurses should be monitoring the patient appropriately. There are times when nurses can act themselves to keep a patient safe, such as by administering medication or other treatment.
  • Failure to correctly assess vitals – If a nurse incorrectly reads blood pressure or other vital signs, the doctor may miss a serious medical issue. This could put the patient at risk for a life-threatening medical condition.

Building a Case for Nursing Malpractice

As stated earlier, these cases are complex and can be challenging to prove. The first element of a medical malpractice case is establishing a doctor/patient relationship. In a nursing malpractice case, you need to establish a nurse/patient relationship, which is established once you receive treatment, or you agree to be treated by the nurse.

The next step is establishing a failure to uphold the accepted standard of care. This is where things start to get complicated. Your lawyer will need to bring in a medical expert to determine the accepted standards for the situation. The expert will need to determine how this standard was not met and link it directly to the injury that was suffered.

For example, the expert would need to show how a medication error allowed a medical issue to worsen or put the patient’s life at risk. Failure to monitor a patient could be fatal, such as if the patient starts to have a heart attack, stroke or other life-threatening issue. There are often signs that this issue is coming on, such as elevated blood pressure or low pulse.

While nurses may not have the training to treat a medical issue, they need to notify a doctor when appropriate. If they notify a doctor and he or she does not take the proper action, the doctor is the one who is likely going to be held liable for damages.

It is important to note nurses may not have a complete medical history about a patient. This may be the fault of the nurse, but it can also be the fault of the patient for not informing the nurse about something, such as an allergy to medication.

Can Others Besides the Nurse Be Held Liable?

The hospital or medical facility could also face liability – employers could be held vicariously liable for the actions of their employees. Often, when a nurse commits malpractice, it is best to file a claim against the employer or medical facility. These facilities have insurance coverage for malpractice.

Sometimes doctors and nurses are liable. While the nurse could have acted differently, the doctor may have also failed to perform up to medical standards, given the situation.

Your attorney may be able to show the nurse was acting under the direction of the attending doctor. In that situation, the nurse might not bear any liability.

Give Us a Call Today to Discuss Your Claim

Medical malpractice can be devastating, as victims could suffer life-changing injuries. Medical malpractice insurance companies and the attorneys that represent them will be fighting hard to escape liability.

You need an experienced advocate who knows how to investigate and prove these cases and has a track record of obtaining compensation for victims. There is limited time to take legal action, and if you wait to contact a lawyer, important evidence can be lost, altered or even destroyed. Our attorneys know how to protect evidence and build a robust case on your behalf.

Free consultation. No upfront costs to you. Call 410-401-9979.